So I'm formulating my goals and plans for 2011 and there's one thing I'd like to accomplish but am going to need a bit of help with. I'd like to learn to think more clearly and logically, if that's at all possible.
I've been out of the religious BS for nearly ten years now but I still find it hard to think through various arguments from theists, take them apart and refute them (which I see happening here to great effect). Obviously, this is only one use of 'clear thinking' but it's the one that's been on my mind the most lately.
My first thought was to ask for book recommendations but that might be too limited. There could be films, courses, exercises, groups (Toastmasters?) or lots of other resources out there that hadn't occurred to me. So, do any of you atheist thinkers have any guidance to offer? Anything at all... I'll throw it against the wall and see what sticks.
Do you frequent the internet?
I believe watching actual debates helped me more than anything.
Names to look for on you tube"
Christopher Hitchens (The supreme debater)
Possibly hundreds of hours of the most entertaining theology shredding I can offer.
I think studying 'how' to think more logically is not as useful as watching the best logicians in action.
Also - as you watch the debates - take notes of words and terms you don't know - Sometimes the debaters like to throw in some latin and what not.
Hope that helps. :)
I'll also throw in Bart Ehrman.
He is a famed NT scholar. His videos and audio clips are close to perfection.
That should get you started.
I found that list by Nelson last night... That's one helluva list. I'm slowly going through it to see if I can pick out a handful to start with.
I didn't know about the e-book. Sweet!
Learning about logical fallacies in a college course really clarified why the Bible, and religion in general, fails. If I were you, I'd really pour over that link, and any books you can get your hands on about the theory of argumentation and Critical Thinking. You don't even have to know everything about Christianity to refute stupid arguments. "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" is what we like to call circular reasoning... and I think this form of logical fallacy is especially annoying to us here on T|A ;) You cannot verify what the Bible says by comparing it to what the Bible says, as you know. There are a lot of "arguments" Christians make that feel wrong, but I didn't know that there are specific labels for each one! :)
Hope this helps a smidge...
I really like this topic, and desire this for myself as well - for any issue. How to be more clear in the factual and tangible reality that surrounds us all. This includes dwelling in thoughts of worry and what ifs - wasting time and potential with nonrealities.
I'd also like to be able to matter-of-factly discuss opposing opinions without feeling anger swell inside, but yet not avoid discussions because of "discomfort". It is becoming more important to me as I get older to be able to say, "I don't agree, and I don't share your beliefs" without concern whether the person now hates me or not. Religion (specifically Christianity) is a topic that incenses me, can't seem to discuss without words like "fucken" or "retarded".
Looks like I need to grow up.
to think more clearly you have to understand where and how we fail to think clearly so you can recognize it in yourself and correct for it. accordingly:
Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson- Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
Daniel Kahneman (ed.)- Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
S.I. Hayakawa- Language In Thought And Action (Fifth Edition)
Michael Bishop and J.D. Trout- Epistemology And The Psychology Of Human Judgment
Michael Shermer (forthcoming)- The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies-- How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
E.T. Jaynes- Probability Theory: The Logic Of Science
if you're interested in being better able to address and refute theistic arguments you have to wade in and get comfortable with them and the responses to them (and the responses to the responses and so on...).
accordingly, as Morgan already pointed to above, check out the "Arguments" section of the informal bibliography i put together.